Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/47

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
ABBOT
ABBOT
19

with baron or earl of the noblest lineage. On the blazoned Roll of the Lords, the Lord Richard Whiting and the Lord Hugh Farringdon (Abbots of Glastonbury and of Reading) went hand in hand with a Howard and a Talbot [Gasquet, Henry VIII and the English Monast. (London, 1888), I, 25]. In France, Spain, Italy, and Hungary their power and influence were equally great, and continued so generally up to the time of the Council of Trent.

VII. Rights and Privileges.—All regular Abbots have the right to give the tonsure and to confer minor orders on the professed members of their house. As early as 787 the Second Council of Nicæa permitted Abbots (provided they were priests, and had received the solemn rite of benediction) to give the tonsure and to advance their monks to the order of lector (Thomassin, Pt., I. c., l. iii, c. xvii, no. 3). The privilege granted by this Council was gradually extended until it embraced all the minor orders, and in the course of time Abbots were authorized to confer them not only on their regular but also on their secular subjects [Wernz, Jus Decretalium (Rome, 1899) ii, 47, note]. The Council of Trent, however, decreed that "it shall not henceforth be lawful for abbots, … howsoever exempted, … to confer the tonsure and minor orders on any but their regular subjects, nor shall the said abbots grant letters dimissory to any secular clerics to be ordained by others" [Can. et Decret. Conc. Trid. (ed. Richter et Schulte), p. 197]. From this decree of the Council it is quite clear that Abbots still have the right to confer the tonsure and minor orders, but it is equally clear that they may confer them lawfully only on their regular subjects. Novices, therefore, oblates, regulars of another order or congregation, and seculars cannot be advanced by the Abbot. Even the Abbots styled vere nullius, who exercise an episcopal jurisdiction in their territory, may not without a special privilege give minor orders to their secular subjects [Santi, Prælect. Jur. Can. (New York, 1898), I, 125 sq., and Can. et Decret. Conc. Trid. (ed. Richter et Schulte), 197 sq., where also the decisions of the Sacred Cong. of the Council on this subject may be found]. On the question of the validity of orders conferred by an Abbot who goes beyond the limits of the faculties extended by the Holy See, canonists disagree. Some pronounce such orders absolutely invalid, others maintain that they are illicitly conferred but nevertheless valid. The opinion of the latter seems to be sustained by various decisions of the Sacred Cong. of the Council (Santi, op. cit., p. 128 sq.; cf. Benedict XIV, De Syn. Diœc. II, c. xi, no. 13). It is a much-disputed question whether Abbots have ever been permitted to confer the subdiaconate and the diaconate. Many canonists hold that the subdiaconate, being of merely ecclesiastical institution, was formerly accounted one of the minor orders of the Church, and infer that Ijefore the time of Urban II (1099), Abbots could have given that order. But the further claim that Abbots have also conferred the diaconate cannot, apparently, be sustained, for the Bull of Innocent VIII, "Exposcit tuæ devotionis" (9 April, 1489), in which this privilege is said to have been granted to certain Cistercian Abbots, makes no reference whatever to the diaconate—"Factâ inspectiono in Archivis (Vaticani) … bulla quidem ibidem est reperta, sed mentio de diaconatu in eâdem deest." [See Gasparri, "Tract. can. de S. Ordinatione," II, n. 798; cf. also P. Pie de Langognc, "Bulle d'Innocent VIII aux abbés de Citeaux pour les ordinations in sacris" (Etudes franciscaines, fév., 1901. 129 sq.)] Pauholzl, in "Studien und Mittheil. aus dem Benedictiner und Cistoreienser-Orden," 1844. I. 441 sq. gives the Bull and defends its authenticity. By the law of the Church Abbots may grant letters dimissorial to their regular subjects, authorizing and recommending them for ordination, but they cannot give dimissorials to seculars without incurring suspension. Abbots are furthermore privileged to dedicate their abbey church and the cemetery of the monastery, and authorized to reconcile them in case of desecration. They can bless church vestments, altar linens, ciboria, monstrances, etc., for their own subjects, and consecrate altars and chalices for their own churches. As prelates, they hold the rank immediately after the bishops, being preceded only by the protonotarii participantes (see Curia Romana), and by the vicar-general in his diocese. It may be added that the Abbots nullius diœcsis are preconized by the Pope in a public consistory, and that, within the territory over which they exercise jurisdiction, their name, like that of a diocesan, is inserted in the canon of the Mass.

The use of the pontifical insignia—mitre, crosier, pectoral cross, ring, gloves, and sandals—which Abbots commonly have, is one of their most ancient privileges. It cannot be definitely ascertained when the privilege was first granted, but as early as 643 the Abbey of Bobbio in Italy is said to have obtained a constitution from Pope Theodore confirming a grant made to the Abbot by Honorius I. In England the pontifical insignia were assigned first to the Abbot of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, in 1063, and nearly a hundred years later to the Abbot of St. Alban's. The privilege was gradually extended to other abbeys until, at the close of the Middle Ages, every monastic house of importance in Europe was presided over by a mitred Abbot. The rights of Abbots to pontificalia are now regulated by the Decree of Pope Alexander VII (S. Cong. of Rites, 27 September, 1659). By the terms of this decree the days on which an Abbot is permitted to pontificate are limited to three days in the year. The use of the seventh candle, customary at a solemn pontifical Mass, is forbidden. The Abbot's mitre is to be made of less costly material than a bishop's, and the pastoral stall is to be used with a white pendant veil. The Abbot is not to have a permanent throne in his monastic church, but is allowed, only when celebrating pontifically, to have a movable throne on two steps and a simple canopy. He has also the privilege of using mitre and crosier whenever the ritual functions require them. As a mark of special distinction, some Abbots are permitted by the Holy See to use the cappa magna, and all abbots nullius may wear a violet biretta and zucchetto. "A recent decree of the S. C. R. (13 June, 1902) has regulated in accordance with former legislation the rights of the abbots of the English Congregation to pontificalia. According to this decree the English abbots can celebrate pontifically not only in their own abbatial churches, but also without the leave of the diocesan bishop in all other churches served by their monks with cure of souls. They can also give leave to other abbots of their Congregation to pontificate in their churches. They can use the prelatical dress, i.e. rochet, mozzetta and mantelletta outside their own churches" [Taunton, The Law of the Church (London, 1900), p. 3]. The Abbots of the American-Cassinese and of the American-Swiss Congregations have the same privileges.

VIII. Assistance at Councils.—Ecclesiastical councils were attended by Abbots at a very early period. Thus, in 448, twenty-three archimandrites or Abbots assisted at that held by Flavian, the Patriarch of Constantinople, and with thirty bishops signed the condemnation of Eutyches. In France, under the Merovingian kings, they frequently appeared at ecclesiastical synods as the delegates of bishops, while in Saxon England and in Spain the presence of monastic superiors at the councils of the Church was nothing uncommon. Their attendance